Following on from my post on sustainable volunteering, I thought I’d come up with some tips on how to get the most out of fundraising – because once you’ve decided on an organisation to volunteer with, you’re probably going to have to raise money to pay for the trip, or for a donation towards the charity! Fundraising can be really difficult and frustrating – especially when you know you’d hit your target in a heartbeat if everyone you know just donated £2! – but it’s also really rewarding, so it’s worth putting some thought into it before you begin. See it as an opportunity to challenge yourself, and do something you’ve never tried before – and not as a chore!
1. Do something
This may sound obvious, but you have to do something to earn the money you raise. No matter how good a cause you are fundraising for, people are much less likely to donate money if they have no motivation to do so – otherwise fundraising wouldn’t be necessary of itself! There needs to be a reason for people to donate to your cause.
2. Make it a challenge
The bigger and more difficult the event, the more likely people are to want to give you money. Whether it be a run, a triathlon, or a non-physical challenge (like a sponsored silence, people are likely to be more sold by the idea that you are setting yourself up against a difficult task – ideally one that people wouldn’t do themselves. Five kilometre runs are all well and good (and of course events like the Race For Life have raised huge amounts of money for great causes), but if its something that someone might just get up in the morning and do for enjoyment, they are unlikely to want to part with their cash in support of it. Embarrassment can be another big seller – dressing up in a daft costume, or dying your hair a crazy colour. One idea, rather than just doing one big event, is to set yourself mini-challenges for each fundraising milestone you reach: speaking only in Spanish for the day at £150, dying your eyebrows purple at £300, dressing up as a giant tomato at £450. You can have lots of fun with this way of doing it – and by filming your humiliation and posting it at various intervals, you’ll certainly persuade people of your commitment, and hopefully get them to part with a few pounds!
3. Make it accessible
The easier it is to donate, the more likely people are to do so. So make an online page – justgiving is a simple and well-recognised place to start – and spread the link far and wide. But more than that, find ways of allowing people to donate without having to go through the whole process of registering online. Whether this be a sponsorship form with which you get people to pledge an amount they give to you at a later date, or just a simple collection tin so that people can give you whatever spare change they might have, make it easy for them. Don’t forget that they’re the ones doing you the favour!
4. Shout about it
Once you’ve decided on your event, and determined how you are going to collect the money for it, promote, promote, promote! This is a lot easier nowadays with multiple social media platforms available – so take advantage of this. Use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, whatever medium your friends and family are most likely to engage with most – and don’t just stop at one post. Let people know about your event a little while in advance, then closer to the time increase the pressure by posting more frequently: the more you bug people, the more likely they are to remember to donate! Don’t worry about being annoying – it’s only online, and people will forget about it very quickly afterwards – and just concentrate on getting the message out there. Also, don’t forget to vary your message: if you’ve very clearly copied and pasted the same note ten times, people will very quickly learn to skip past it on their news feed. Mention why you’re doing it, how well the event is going or has gone, how well the fundraising is going – anything that might grab people’s interest.
5. Spread the message
It’s easy to be lazy when it comes to trying to get sponsored for something. But if you make that extra little bit of effort, it can go a long way. Make sure you talk to lots of different people about what you are doing. Bring it up in conversation to people you don’t necessarily talk to that much. Get in contact with the local rotary club. Email all your extended family. Get in touch with people you used to know who wouldn’t necessarily find out about what you’re doing without direct contact (my old piano teacher and ex-cricket coach were both wonderfully, incredibly generous the first time I attempted a charity event) – just give it a go. You have nothing to lose by simply informing people of what you are doing and where the money will go. If nothing else, at least you’re raising awareness.
6. Use other people.
If people are willing, they can help you no end in your fundraising efforts. They can widen the circle of potential sponsors, and they also take the pressure off you! Get your dad to take a sponsor form down to the pub and chat to his mates about what you’re doing: blokes with a few pints in them are a generous bunch. (Disclaimer: this is actually a real life example – stereotypes are sometimes accurate!) Or alternatively, rope in some friends to help promote your event, or assist you on the day if it’s something that could use a few extra pairs of hands.
7. Before and after
There’s no real rush to actually hit your target before the event. Especially where there’s an element of potential failure involved (as with my sponsored silence). A lot of people want to see that you actually do what you say you’re going to before they will part with any money. Equally, a lot of people just never quite get round to donating. That’s all ok. Just as long as you still give them the opportunity to do so afterwards as much as you did before. Bring it up on Facebook a couple more times, or continue carrying around your donation tin. It all adds up, even a few extra pounds here and there. And justgiving pages stay open for three months after your event!
8. Don’t forget to say thank you
Once you’re all done and dusted on the fundraising front, and have squeezed every penny out of your nearest and dearest, don’t forget to do the rounds and thank everyone who has taken the time to donate. This tip won’t necessarily maximise your sponsorship, but it’s just good manners! And you never know, it may make people more likely to donate to your next venture…